It’s time to stop working through lunch, because one of the best things you can do for your health and productivity is take a break.
Time really is money in the legal profession, and the pressure to keep up with huge workloads and meet billable-hour targets means squeezing in a lunch break every day can prove tricky – and seem unnecessary. But the thing is, even though it might feel like inhaling fast food at your desk or skipping lunch altogether will help you get more done, taking a proper break boosts your productivity and improves both your physical and mental health.
The decline of lunch breaks
A recent Pollfish survey found almost one in five Australian workers powers through lunch without a break. When asked why, 75 per cent of respondents felt there was too much work to do and too few staff to share the burden. Others said it was because they felt guilty if they took a break or because it wasn’t in their organisation’s culture to pause for lunch. Research by The Australia Institute found 3.8 million people routinely don’t take a lunch break, with one in two saying it’s because they’re too busy.
These behaviours are particularly evident in the legal profession where there’s a huge amount of personal and organisational pressure to work long hours and skip lunch, says Professor Rebecca Mitchell from the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Newcastle.
“There’s a lot of pressure to undertake work that’s seen as billable, and that leads to a culture where people are driven not to take breaks during work and perhaps to work more outside of normal working hours,” she says.